Hey everybody! :)
I was thinking this week about how 2013 is going to end in just a few days, and thinking about how it has been the absolute best year of my life. I started 2013 as a missionary and I will end it as a missionary, and for that, it will forever be my favorite year. I think back on this last year and think about how very much my life has changed in that short time. I was thinking about it a lot as I was talking to yàll on Christmas, how things there on the homefront really haven`t changed so very much. People are still doing pretty much the same things with pretty much the same people and they`re enjoying pretty much the same things. That`s not to say that no one`s doing anything at home... that would be just plain old silly. However, I was thinking about how the dynamic of my friends and family really hasn`t changed so very much, but how I have changed immensely. I hadn`t really thought that I had changed much in the mission, but talking to everybody really made me see that I`m not the same person at all. There`s still a bit of Maren tucked down in the cracks, but I really and honestly believe that Maren finished her reign on December 5, 2012. Now there`s someone different in her place who goes by the name of Bayles, and in about half a year, someone else will take HER place... a saber quien serà. I just... I just don`t know how to describe it except to say that I`m not who I was, nor do I see the world how I saw it before. I am changed, and I`d wager to say it`s a permanent kind of thing. Anyway. Enough of that.
We passed Christmas well, hiding from loud explosions of fireworks and maniacally laughing Hondurans. All in all it was a wonderful night. We all had to enter the house early, so the ohter three sisters I live with and I all hunkered down and enjoyed a very Merry Christmas. Well, I suppose I should correct myself: I enjoyed a very merry Christmas with one house-mate who was only slightly baggy (o sea homesick, I suppose) as my other two house-mates were not very happy about being away from home for Christmas. I thought it would be very hard again this year, like it was last year, but honestly I don`t know that I missed home very much at all. Surely I missed spending time with my family, but to say I missed home enough to be homesick would be a bit of a misgiving. You see, I left one home to find another, and even though I couldn`t be with my stateside loved ones this Christmas, I was very much at home. After a sister missionary hits the one year mark, suddenly everyone begins to tell her, ^ya se va,^ or, ^yup, you`re about to go home,^ and everytime someone says that to me, it gets me. I suppose it would be wrong to say I never want to go home, because I certainly want to be with my family again and I know that at some point all things must end, but if you can all understand my point of view, you will understand me when I say, ^I don`t want to go home. I don`t want this to end.^ It`s a strange and interesting effect the mission has on you.
Well, I suppose I should begin responding to you all.
First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR!. O sea, Feliz año nuevo! Here everybody says feliz año close to the new year. They use it to say goodbye to people. For example, normally people say feliz tarde or feliz noche to say goodbye, but in this particular week of the year everyone just says, feliz año! So: FELIZ AÑO.
Also, I saw a man in the bus today who was wearing a CTR ring, and i wanted to shout out to the front, Î`m Mormon too!^ but I didn`t. Pointless story, but I was just thinking about how sometimes we`re so afraid to share the gospel, but the mission makes us very bold. Before the mission, if probably would have sat down quietly and said in a not-so-loud voice, âre you Mormon? Me too^ However, those days are passed and now I share the gospel in a much more bold way.
Eileeny! I was sad I didn`t get to see-talk to you in Christmas, but I totally understand. That`s nice that you got to spend some solid Hinckley time. I bet that was fun. I haven`t gotten anything from Sondra, but I`ll keep an eye out. I think a lot of things got lost or delayed in the mail becausee of that whole Christmas business. Also, I`m glad you liked my Christmas card. :) I had to make it back in November so it would get there in time, but I got a kick out of it.
I`ve actually heard a lot about that kidnapping movie lately. I don`t know if it`s because it just came out or if it`s because the Johns (as senior missionaries) watch movies and everything and have talked about it, but I`ll look forward to seeing it. I don`t know if the public on the whole knows, but just a few months ago a pair of sister missionaries was kidnapped in Guatemala. It was amazing to hear about how the Lord really protected them in thesituation. It was also interesting to hear the business side of it. When the sisters were kidnapped, the first thing the mission president did was call the area presidency, and everyone went into action immediately to help recover the sisters. But the thing that was most interesting to me was what the area presidency asked the mission president. They didn`t ask a lot of questions, but they did ask one personal question about the sisters: are they obedient missionaries? When the mission president answered that they were very obedient, the area presidency responded with relief and said, ^President, they`re going to be just fine.^ It`s amazing how obedience brings blessings.
anyway, Ihope you have agreat new year. Love you!
Pops, It was fun reading all of your insights about the grandkids (or in my case the sobrinos). I bet they`re all so fun and cute and rambunctious. They`re just all so big and grown up. :) It was great talking to yàll too. It was weird becuase I haven`t spoken that much ingles in about a year now, and it was interesting to see that I had to translate a couple of things into english in my head before I could speak. And just think, a year ago I thought I`d never speak Spanish. The gift of tongues is real. (funny story about the gift of tongues: today we were eating pizza and the word âlfombra^came to mind along with a mental image of shaggy carpet. I`ve never used the word alfombra before, although I`ve heard it a total of three times, twice in one day about 6 months ago. I asked my companion what it meant and she pointed to some carpet (a rarity in Honduras) and said that. It was kind of cool). Anyway, I`m glad yàll are doing well and I hope you`re all happy. Love you tons.
Mumsie, I liked Lauren`s saying, although I must correct her in saying, my mission will end up being 19 or 20 months just because of the timing of change meetings and everything. Also, I`ve been thinking about whether to extend my mission or not, and i was thinking: the only thing keeping me from absolutely extending is the fact that I don`t want to miss Carlos` baptism. So I was thinking: is there any chance that Carlos would be able to be baptized in August instead of July? Here`s the thing. If I extend, instead of coming home June 28 or something, I`ll get home like August 8 or something. So, if everything works out for my extension, could he just be baptized one month later on the 10? I know you shouldn`t push back a baptism if you can help it, but it`s one month and it would make my life so much easier. Because honestly I don`t know what I`ll do for the whole month of July and august except go out of my mind before school starts. Everyone will be working except for me and I`ll get home too late to go up to school for summer term. Anyway, it`s something to think about, because I`m thinking more than very heavily in extending my mission; I just have to get the ok from my mission president. Anyway, I hope you`re all doing well. Love you mucho.
Gwogurdy, Hi-a bradda. I liked your Paradise Lost PoGP connection. That`s something I was thinking about a lot back when I was serving in Olanchito, who exactly is my God. Sometimes we put so many other things in our lives before we put God that we unawaredly replace him. I think it`s for that that the 10 commandments say we will love no other gods before God, because God knows that His children often let other things replace Him. Sure we don`t worship planets or suns or animals or trees, but which do we worship more, God or TV, God or internet, God or fashion, God or a thousand other things that replace Him with. It reminds me very much of Jeffrey R. Holland`s talk back in October of 2012 when He spoke of Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him. It`s the same with our Heavenly Father: He asks us if we love Him, and if we answer yes, He expects us to leave our metaphorical nets behind. As C.S. Lewis noted, He (God) does not want a part of us, He wants all of us. He asked fishers to leave their nets, families to leave their homes, the wealthy to leave their riches, parents to leave their children. He expects us to love Him more than any other thing in the world, and for that He asked Abraham, who had waited hundreds of years to gain the identity of father, to give up his very identity in giving up his only son. God does not want fence-sitters. God expects us to choose this day whom we will serve and worship no other gods before Him. It`s a slightly terrifying but also inspiring thought. Anyway, I hope you`re super happy. If you want me to set you up with this Honduran named Lilian, I`ve already decided she would be an acceptable sister-in-law. hahaha Love you, bradda!
Anyway, that`s about all, folks. May you reach your goals this year and may you smile and laugh more in the year to come than in the year that has passed. I love you all oodly doodlies!
Hna The Bayles